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51% Show #1227

There’s a crisis brewing with a symbol of the American west. More than 50 thousand wild horses, protected by law,  have been rounded up and moved to enclosed pastures to make way for cattle. But the US Bureau of Land Management says the wild horse population is growing at an unmanageable rate – and advocates for the mustangs say that the government’s approach is both ineffective and cruel.

Holding pens are at or near capacity and the cost of caring for the captive horses is skyrocketing.

Right now, more than 37 thousand wild horses and burros live on federal rangeland in ten western states. That’s more than ten thousand more than the bureau says it can handle.

Suzanne Roy is director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. They advocate better management and, when necessary, contraception, but criticize the rounding up and removal of the herds as cruel and unnecessary. The government agency argues that though some horses and foals do die during the helicopter roundups, the current system is the only option.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is looking at expanding the list of endangered species.

Polar bears, sharks and Madagascan hardwood timber are among several animal and plant species that are being proposed to be added to the list of protected plants and animals.

Another creature facing a serious threat is one you’d think could take care of itself – the rhinoceros. New figures released by the UN and and South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs show the number of rhino being poached has reached record levels.

In the wild, it is estimated there are just 20 thousand white rhinos…and only five thousand black rhinos. They had just bounced back from a significant decline, but UN Radio’s Julie Walker reports a new wave of poaching is threatening them again.

If we’re going to care about threatened species, we need to understand them. Public radio’s Ari Daniel Shapiro hosts a series called One Species at a Time... for the Encyclopedia of Life - and in this segment, he gets to know one of the largest, and least understood, of earth’s creatures.

And finally, let’s turn to a creature that is not the endangered – but the predator. It’s the sea lamprey – an invasive species that has had one of the biggest impacts on Lake Superior  - an issue explored by Barbara Jean Johnson and Kelly Schoenfelder of WTIP North Shore Community Radio for the 26 part Lake Superior Project.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.

Sting - If You Love Someone Set Them Free

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